|Unsung hero award first for BC highschool|
|The Press - Features|
|Written by Kelley Lannigan|
|Thursday, 02 June 2011 09:42|
The Baker County High School Senior Awards are held each year to recognize seniors graduating with honors, those receiving scholarships, certificates of merit and other recognition.
This year’s awards ceremony, held May 23 at First Baptist Church of Glen St. Mary, included something new: the Unsung Hero Award.
Senior Jason Bennett, the son of Tammy and Darrell Bennett of Macclenny, is the first recipient.
Mr. Bennett’s father recently sent an e-mail to Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson suggesting his son be briefly recognized for his unselfish sacrifice and dedication to the needs of his 10-year-old sister Tristan, who has cerebral palsy.
The elder Mr. Bennett was proud, he said, of his son’s character and maturity and his accomplishments in addition to caring for his disabled sister.
Caring for a disabled sibling would be daunting enough for anyone. The younger Mr. Bennett also managed to graduate with honors, obtain a security course certification through the school’s criminal justice academy and attain the gold level of the “Ready to Work “ credential in applied mathematics.
“There aren’t many 17-year-olds who would have been willing to do what he did,” Mr. Bennett’s message stated.
After reading the father’s accolades about his son, Ms. Raulerson decided the young man needed more than just a nod of recognition.
During the awards ceremony, the younger Mr. Bennett heard for the first time his father’s praises as the message sent to Ms. Raulerson was read out loud.
He was then presented with a special plaque featuring a photo image of him and his sister.
For the past several years while he was a student, Mr. Bennett has shared responsibility for the care of his sister during the afternoon hours before his mother comes home from work. During the summers he was her primary care giver.
When the teen arrived home from school, he had about an hour to do chores before his sister came home from Macclenny Elementary.He would feed and water the family’s dogs, takes out the garbage, clean up the kitchen and his bedroom. About two evenings a week, he got supper started.
When Tristan arrived, he got her settled, fixed her a snack, usually a cup of tea and some yogurt or some crackers.
Then the two would watch her favorite program “Jack’s Big Music Show” on the Nickelodeon channel.
Sometimes they’d go for a ride in the family’s go-cart. It has a specially-rigged seat just for her.
He also administered Tristan’s anti-seizure medication, which she takes twice daily.
Once his mother got home from work around 5:30, he might help finish up supper, then it was on to homework.
Jason Bennett is unassuming about receiving the award. He simply sees his role as his duty and his pleasure — something he does because he loves his sister.
Several years ago he recognized the need for his parents to be able to work unencumbered by the uncertainty of consistent, quality care for Tristan. He willingly stepped into the role and never looked back.
“I figured my parents had raised and cared for me for 17 years and I could do this for them,” he said.
He will attend Florida Gateway College this fall to pursue a criminal justice degree. He plans to become a lawyer.
This summer, he’ll help train his brother Jake, 14, to care for Tristan.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 22 December 2011 11:24|